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LEED Volume Program: A Faster Way To Achieve Portfolio-Wide LEED Certification

Grand opening of Penske Leasing in Channahon, IL

Across the business landscape, organizations operating company-owned buildings are actively seeking solutions to allow them to become better environmental stewards. 

One of the best ways to accomplish their sustainability goals is by getting their buildings LEED-certified. For owners with multiple properties, however, achieving certifications for all of their buildings can be an arduous, time-consuming process.

The LEED volume program can help.

Cyclone Energy Group, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in building design and operation optimization, has been helping companies embrace the program, which simplifies LEED documentation and speeds up the review process for real estate portfolios that have built standardized LEED requirements into their prototype designs.

Transportation services company Penske Truck Leasing is working toward its first full-service truck rental and truck leasing LEED-certified facility in Akron, Ohio, which opened in late 2022. Cyclone partnered with Penske to help ensure it is becoming LEED-ready at this facility and others.

“Penske’s facilities and environmental teams sought out ways to demonstrate the sustainability of their buildings,” Cyclone Energy Group CEO Benjamin Skelton said. “They reached out to Cyclone through their Chicago architect, Camburas Theodore. We presented the LEED volume program, which is designed for companies that design prototypical buildings.”

Cyclone introduced the LEED volume program to Penske in 2021, and the prototype design was approved in April 2022 by Green Business Certification Inc., an organization providing credentialing and certification to green businesses. 

“We had to create several iterations of the prototype design to allow for this type of building to be built anywhere in the U.S.,” Skelton said. “Some requirements included considering different heating and cooling system designs, building materials and site locations that had advantageous access to features LEED promotes.”

Penske Director of Environmental Services Mike Costanza said that when it came time to develop the prototype, the company knew Cyclone would be an asset. During the early phases of their relationship, Cyclone took the time to get to know Penske’s business, and it came up with a unique solution.

“They introduced us to the LEED volume program, which provides a streamlined certification process for companies looking to certify multiple buildings that are very similar in building design and construction practices,” he said. “This program allows for the certification of a prototype building, along with audits of subsequent submittals, to ensure that they meet the prototype standards and credits. This portfolio-level approach was a perfect fit for Penske.”

Costanza added that Cyclone had experience in getting similar vehicle maintenance facilities LEED-certified. When he was able to visit one of those locations, he saw the results firsthand. 

Cyclone was instrumental in helping the company navigate the LEED process by recommending and securing the LEED volume program, Penske Vice President of Facilities Sean Yentsch said.

Yentsch said the program allowed Penske to certify several building layouts that were different but similar in their prototype designs. This saved the company significant time by eliminating the need to go through the intense LEED application process each time it constructed a new facility.  

Penske wanted to know at the start of the process how close its buildings already were to qualifying for LEED certification. To answer that question, Cyclone thoroughly examined Penske’s specifications, design plans and construction practices.

“In addition to reviewing our plans, they developed a gap assessment to help us see what we were missing to bring our buildings up to LEED standards,” Costanza said. “We were very pleased to see that much of our current design and construction practices already met the LEED standard, which allowed us to focus our resources on the aspects that needed to be improved.”

Not only did Cyclone's sustainability efforts help Penske's facility reach its LEED goals, but they also complemented the company's sustainability initiatives, which center around minimizing its environmental impacts.

"The LEED volume program aligns with and expands many of our other initiatives, including energy reduction, renewable energy use, CO2 reduction, water conservation and waste recycling,” Costanza said.  

Penske Truck Leasing is working toward adopting the volume program nationwide for new locations while taking a greener approach to maintaining its facilities.

“Aside from expanding our volume program across the country, we are also engaged with Cyclone to produce LEED warehouses for our customers and are looking into the maintenance side of LEED to ensure that the facilities are cared for in a green way,” Yentsch said.

Penske is committed to the LEED volume program and will work with Cyclone to help meet its project pipeline targets, Costanza added.

“We will continue to work with Cyclone to get those buildings certified, as well as some warehouse facilities that will be certified outside of the volume program,” he said.

Skelton said Cyclone plans to continue to help Penske reach its LEED goals with future facilities, all while reducing costs and keeping quality intact.

“We’re excited about creating a long-lasting partnership with Penske,” he said. “We want to continue to implement the LEED volume program to help the company create a standard for evaluating performance cost effectively without compromising quality.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Cyclone Energy Group. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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